The former Chelsea star is said to have rejected the chance to join Greek giants Olympiakos due to his desire to head to the States.
Essien, 32, joined AC Milan from Chelsea in the winter of 2014 but has since struggled for form and fitness, making just 13 appearances this season for a total of 684 minutes.
The Ghana international is set to be out of contract this summer and, with no place for him at the San Siro, is now weighing up his options ahead of his next move.
Premier League newcomers Watford were said to be considering an approach earlier this month [h/t Watford Observer] but latest rumours had linked the former African Footballer of the Year with a switch to Olympiakos.
However, Essien is now claimed to have rejected the chance to head to Greece in favour of a potential stateside switch, with the New York Red Bulls being his preferred destination.
The Blues legend has long-been linked with MLS and agent Fabrizio Ferrari added some weight to the rumours during the winter transfer window, telling Gianluca di Marzio that his client would be keen on reuniting with ex-Milan teammate Kaka at Orlando City SC.
"We have yet to receive a satisfying offer, we're looking for offers for next season,” Ferrari said. “Orlando? You never know. MLS is very interesting, should offers arrive we'll consider them."
Negotiations with FC Dallas were also said to be ongoing at the time [h/t Gazzetta dello Sport] and, while a move failed to materialise, Essien’s interest in MLS does not appear to have weaned since.
Nevertheless, the Red Bulls themselves would not appear to be a great fit for the Ghanaian, with captain Dax McCarty, Felipe Martins and US international Sacha Kljestan making up one of the league’s strongest midfield line-ups.
In addition, while Essien was one considered the game’s top midfield enforcer, he has failed to recreate his past performances since suffering cruciate ligament damage for the second time in the summer of 2011, with his lacklustre Serie A stint highlighting his decline.
Given the reputation he built during his time at Chelsea, he might he considered a popular signing with some MLS fans, but it’s debatable whether he would be able to provide enough on-pitch value at this point.